Kentucky didn’t come away with the win against Florida on Senior Day, but the pregame festivities were still special moments for the veteran players.
Olivier Sarr, who transferred from Wake Forest during the offseason to spend his senior year of college in Lexington, was one of three Wildcats who were honored during Senior Day on Saturday afternoon in Rupp Arena, joining Davion Mintz and Riley Welch. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic still making travel difficult and family not even allowed on the court, it was hardly the usual fun that Senior Day typically brings.
For Sarr, whose family lives in France, he expected to celebrate his senior moment with just his teammates and the limited crowd at Rupp. However, he received a surprise virtual visit from his brother, Alex, and parents, Marie and Massar, as they were live-streamed directly to the Rupp Arena jumbotron during Sarr’s Senior Day introduction.
“Lot of feelings,” Sarr said after the game about his introduction. “It was unbelievable to see them out there and see their faces right before my game. It’s been a long time, as a lot of people know because of the pandemic, and it was just an unbelievable feeling to see my brother and my parents out there watching the game. It was fantastic.”
Sarr has not seen his parents since before the pandemic initially swept the country around this time last year. Part of the reason he even came to the United States in the first place was to do what his dad did–help make a better life for himself and his future.
“I think for me it’s all about how I was raised,” Sarr said on Friday about coming to America for education. “My dad comes from Africa. He comes from Senegal. Basically I’m trying to do what he did. He left for a better life. I’m not saying that I had bad conditions back home, but he left for a better life and went to France and studied, earned his degree and he is now living a comfortable life. He built his own legacy, and I think that’s the path I want to choose. Being able to be in this position today, it’s a blessing for me. It’s a way of remembering what my dad taught me and he’s still teaching me to this day. It’s just an honor to be able to do that.”
When asked if he knew that his family would be making an appearance, Sarr said it was a shock.
“Not at all, I didn’t know at all,” Sarr said.
Sarr’s live reaction proves his unawareness. Once his parents were broadcast on the big screen, he cracked a giant smile that stayed on his face until the opening tip. Sarr also told the media on Friday that, while he would participate in Senior Day, his future at Kentucky is still uncertain. The NCAA recently granted a free year of eligibility to all student-athletes for the current season, meaning Sarr could come back for another year in the blue and white if he so chooses.
“Right now, we’re on the final home stretch of the season, so my mind is on the end of the season and trying to be the best version of myself every night, every game,” Sarr said Friday afternoon. “I mean, that’s a question that I think about. I don’t have an answer yet. I’m just glad to be here and happy to finish this season.”
Watch the entire Senior Day ceremony, including Sarr’s moment, below.